Author Sir Ken Robinson opened ITLACON this week with an inspiring keynote based on his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. He was everything you want in a keynote speaker – funny, a bit irreverent and gave your brain something to chew on for a few days even while it was trying to help you remember the names of the folks you only see once a year… or where to find the Augustus Ballroom.

What can happen in our lives when talent and our passion are aligned?

The call to action is to discover our hearts and our passions and release our creativity. But where do we begin?

First, a little background from Sir Robinson. Human beings have a suite of powers that are very distinctive, including our power of imagination. Someone can tell us to think about our office, and we can bring our office into our consciousness. We can visit the past and try to see things from another’s point of view. We can also imagine the future, although we are all bad at imagining a future that will actually come into being (more on that later).

We are living in a time of great change – global in origin and accelerating. To meet these changes, we have to think differently and we also have to act differently.

From four household gadgets to 3 million apps

Sir Robinson spoke of his childhood and the four gadgets in his family’s home: a record player, a telephone, a television and a radio. Beyond these four devices, there was nothing.

He compared this to an iPhone, with its searchable library of 115 billion pages of the Internet and more than 3 million apps at our fingertips. What’s next? No one knows, because, remember, we’re not good at predicting the future.

Henry Ford didn’t anticipate the highway system when he started rolling model Ts off the assembly line. He didn’t consider air pollution. These evolutions and unintended consequences were things nobody thought about during those early days. They rose up from the innovation.

Digital is getting more subtle, cheaper and more pervasive every day. Think about how much it will change the world in ways we can’t even imagine.

Watch for tigers. And jungles.

But back to all of us being more creative and fulfilled.

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything is about doing something you love, promoting greater creativity and finding the talent within people.

Sir Robinson noted how we have deep resources in the minds of people in our organizations, and we have solutions. But the people with the ideas often may not be considered part of the solutions. The problem is the system, which is based on conformity.

People solve problems differently depending on what they see. His anecdote about the photo of a tiger underscored the need to focus on the individual: a picture was shown to groups of people in India and the U.S. Indians said, “I see a tiger in a jungle.” Americans said, “I see a tiger.”

Question the obvious. Connect people in your organization with the tools specific to their needs to tap their creativity and passion.

Don’t overlook the Beatles

If we don’t, we’ll miss out.

Sir Robinson once interviewed Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who had the same music teacher in school. They didn’t like music in school, and the teacher didn’t see talent in them. A teacher in Liverpool in the 1950s had half the Beatles in his class and missed it!

I’m grateful ITLACON didn’t miss the opportunity to bring in one of TED Talks’ most popular speakers. Check out Sir Robinson’s TED Talks online for more of his insights on how you can release your creativity.